The Arts Alliance of Portage County will sponsor the Community Show, “Return to Scarlet Gulch,” a musical melodrama and sequel to last year’s play, the weekend of Feb. 28 at Sentry’s Theater@1800, 1800 North Point Drive, Stevens Point.
Tickets are $12.50 per person and show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, and March 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2. Tickets are available at the door and by calling the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Box Office at 715-346-1400.
The play was written by Steve Senski and Linda Martin Moore, both of whom have written for the Community Show before. Carol Strom wrote the original play, “The Romance of Scarlet Gulch,” which was first performed in Stevens Point in the 1990s.
The first play was about a typical town in California during the 1849 gold rush, complete with cancan dances and cowboys. “Return to Scarlet Gulch” picks up in the same town roughly 40 years later, after all the gold is gone and people are starting to move away. There is now little left but a conniving mayor, empty gold mines haunted by a ghost and a curious geologist from back east, said Elizabeth Aguillera, the executive director of administration and development for the Arts Alliance.
Though the play alludes to the original, it is all new material and has never been done before, Aguillera said.
“The whole script is brand new and it essentially just references the original story. You can still enjoy the show even if you have not seen the original; it’s a pretty simple production,” she said.
The music is directed by Christopher Gasch and consists mostly of piano music, in keeping with the Old West theme. Gasch also directed music for the original play and has partnered with the Community Show for several other production.
Linda Martin Moore has directed the Community Shows for the past 16 years, including the one she and her family wrote. This year however due to an illness Linda Martin Moore’s son, Christopher Moore, is directing the play.
The entire cast and crew for the play are volunteer community members, as has been tradition for the Community Show since its beginning 18 years ago. An open cast call went in late January.
“Anyone who shows up is in the show, whether you are 80 years old or a little kid,” said Aguillera. “We tweak and write the script to so we can fit everybody in.”
There have been productions with casts of more than 60 people in prior years. There are often generations of families acting in the play together with several mother/daughter and father/son participants, Aguillera said. Even Christopher Moore’s sixth-grade daughter, Violet, has a role in the play.
“It really becomes this family and a really unique opportunity where you pull together a musical show in a month and perform at a wonderful venue. Where else would you really get that type of experience?” said Aguillera.
The actors and actresses have just over a month from the time they are cast until opening night to memorize their lines, rehearse and perfect the production.
“Something else about the show that I think is unique, the material is always written specifically for our community,” Aguillera said. “There are always references to things like McDill Pond or things that are going on in the community. There is always that local flavor.”
The Community Show is one of the main fundraisers for the Arts Alliance. The Arts Alliance has been active in the community for 10 years, helping to connect artists with the public and resources.
“Essentially we not only create events to connect people to the arts, like this Community Show, Arts Walk and the Film Festival, we also are always advocating for the arts, educating people about the arts,” said Aguillera. “Just by going and buying a ticket you help with operation costs, the expenses of the show and then whatever is left is for the Arts Alliance.”
The Community Show was originally started by the Community Foundation 18 years ago. They handed to it over to the Arts Alliance several years ago in part as a funding source for the Arts Alliance.
“When you support us you are supporting local arts and culture organizations that give back to the community,” said Aguillera.